Thursday, September 22, 2016

Queen of Katwe

Hollywood regularly churns out underdog sports movies, but rarely do modern entries in the genre work as well as Queen of Katwe, a true story that centers on a non-traditional subject (a Ugandan girl) and a non-traditional game (chess). Like this year's Eddie the Eagle (side note: holy crap, Eddie the Eagle came out this year?! I would have pegged it as a 2014 or 2015 film for sure), the film leans heavily on the formulaic aspects of its genre, but it's so enjoyable to watch these actors and these characters, it hardly matters that you know every major beat before it happens.

Queen of Katwe
Director: Mira Nair
Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

As Hollywood continues its obsession with remaking and rebooting classic films, the conversation will continue about the best and worst examples of this phenomenon. John Carpenter's The Thing and David Cronenberg's The Fly are consistently raised as examples of how to do it correctly, while more recent remakes like Total Recall and RoboCop are widely seen as wastes of time that give their predecessors a bad name. Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven falls into the latter camp. It's a soulless retread that not only fails to justify its existence, but fails to excite, inspire, charm, or otherwise elicit any emotion aside from contempt. This may be one of the most tedious action movies I've ever seen.

The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Haley Bennett, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Light Between Oceans

When I sit down to watch any movie, there almost always ends up being at least one aspect of it that strikes me as as "wrong" in some way or another. I don't actively search for these elements — they just pop up along the way, and I'm sure you notice them too. Sometimes it's a character making a decision that doesn't feel justified, or a shot that seems particularly out of place. Sometimes it's a super cheesy line of dialogue, or an actor edging just a bit too far over the top as to briefly pull me out of the performance. Too many of these moments can ruin a movie, but for the most part, they're just little blips that I observe and sail right past. For me, The Light Between Oceans is the extraordinarily rare film that does not contain a single false note. I was utterly lost in the film from beginning to end, engulfed in every detail from the stitching on the characters' clothing to the heartbreaking events that propel its story. Tinged with melancholy and brushed with a light touch of hope, The Light Between Oceans is an unforgettable experience.

The Light Between Oceans
Writer/Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz

Friday, August 26, 2016

Don't Breathe

After remaking Evil Dead in 2013, director Fede Alvarez is back with his sophomore feature Don't Breathe, a startling, twisty thriller that's one of the most intense theatrical experiences I've had this year.

Don't Breathe
Co-writer/Director: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Stephen Lang